Saturday March 4th 2017 saw Peter Dowdall’s article on Peter Donegan and The Sodshow heading to Salt Lake City, Utah to do the Sodshow Live show for St Patricks Day (and week) hit the headlines.
Read the original article here: The Sodshow Garden Podcast heads to the US
This March, our Taosieach won’t be the only one presenting bowls of shamrock in the US.
Three days either side of St Patrick’s Day, The Sodshow garden podcast will land in Salt Lake City, Utah, to do The Sodshow Live.
This is an Irish-based but UK-placed garden podcast that originally started out in garden designer, Peter Donegan’s back garden.
At the time it was simply Peter talking into the tail end of his iPhone and very much by a collective series of accidents, it ended up alongside Brian Greene on the airwaves of Dublin radio.
In the early days that made him put a sort of formality to something that was a bit haphazard—it upped production levels to radio standard and it became a really good listen.
It twice won Ireland’s Best Podcast.
For almost five years, The Sodshow was Ireland’s only full-time garden radio show and in July 2016 it finally left the airwaves of Dublin. Recent suggestions are that it may be taken up by a UK-based radio station.
Last year’s The Sodshow Live at Bloom Fringe, drew the attention of Melinda Meservy, owner of a garden shop in Salt Lake City, and according to Peter, “she made me an offer I literally could not refuse”.
And so this March, The Sodshow Live will present from Utah.
Melinda, who formerly worked with a large multinational,became one of The Sodshow’s greatest fans.
“I’ll do a couple of workshops and two talks from the store under my own name”, says Peter, “but essentially the big draw will be two days, either side March 17th with 3/4 guests interviewed live on stage, recorded and then later aired as podcasts.
“Melinda has somewhat ‘Americanised’ the format slightly since we last did Dublin Castle and instead of just interviewing the guests, there’ll be live music between each interview, two after-parties on each night, and a meet and greet with those who come along.”
Peter is passionate about what he does and in the nicest possible way, is a bit different in the way he approaches things.
In the midst of the recession, he became aware that there was no full-time gardening programme on radio and so, faced with the dilemma of how to broadcast gardening matters, decided to start his own radio show.
“If I’m really honest, sometimes you do this thing that you love, talking about a subject that you have loved so dearly all of your life, and sometimes wonder how this has happened. ”
What Peter has achieved through six years of regular, entertaining and very informative podcasts is impressive and something that could only be maintained by somebody who cares deeply and believes totally in what they are doing.
“What has been achieved, and that which I love so dearly, is that I get to talk to people who with all their hearts love what they do and are firmly placed at the top of their game in the horticulture industry.”
And it’s not until one hears that interview with Philip Turvil of Kew, LA’s Ron Finley or Cork’s very own Tony O’Mahony that you realise there is a passion that exudes from all of them that can only make you smile.
“And yeah, I understand that’s very far from a monetary derived achievement — but happy land in Peter’s head is a pretty good place,” he says.
Peter started growing plants from the age of five under his bed, created his first garden aged 10 and in 2001, he started Donegan Landscaping Dublin, aged just 24.
Driving a battered old car that he owed money on, with not a penny to his name, he borrowed the tools for his first job.
Since then Peter has won national awards for the design and build of 17th and 18th century estates and has built and designed show gardens for display and at national competition level.
Whether creating gardens privately, advising, teaching or talking about a particular horticultural subject, horticulture and gardening has become his entire life — which it can have a habit of doing.
The thought of an Irish produced gardening podcast being taken up by UK radio may seem strange — but is it?
The podcast is predominantly placed there already and that’s not a geographic or market-size driven thing, more that the English history of horticulture, it’s position in hosting the world’s greatest shows, it’s strong horticultural organisations and long-standing media coverage, makes it a perfect base.
The name ‘Sodshow’ was selected on Twitter, back when that was a very new media.
“If I remember correctly it got two votes. The Sodshow’s logo, still used to this day, was designed by a then 16-year-old Luke Donegan (no relation), Caitriona Redmond baked us a cake in a flower pot with jelly worms at the bottom to celebrate, and Bernie Goldbach long-term loaned me all of the microphones and wires I could ever need.
“The Sodshow may be considered successful, but like anything new and without financial backing — it would have been nothing without the people who were there when you were only learning to walk.”
Gardening is a niche pastime, but in these days of the world wide web the market is worldwide, and it’s not until you hear the advice that Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medal winner 2016, Paul Martin gives in an interview, that you wonder what other radio show could have fitted this story?
And it is awe-inspiring, because at the time, Paul’s garden hadn’t even been built.
Then you see it happen, and you listen back and think, that if any of us ever had the slightest ambition to do as Paul did, and to get to Chelsea, then this interview is probably where I would point them first.
It’s not just Paul though, it is all of West Cork Garden Trail, Blarney Castle, Bloom Fringe and Bloom, these are people and groups who need a place to let their story be told — and what exists now, didn’t six years ago.
When news of The Sodshow Live landing in Utah was aired, the team at Blarney Castle sent Peter on a range of T-shirts from their gift store and some pieces of Blarney stone to present as gifts.
“The odd time you really have to take a stand back and be very proud of those who, for no apparent reason but absolute loveliness and smiles, chose to stand tall by your side,” says Peter.
If he does find his way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (and you know what, I wouldn’t bet against it) he may just turn Donald green. He may make him a believer.
The best way to describe Peter is that he is an energy all of his own, clearly passionate about what he does — and a better representative for gardening in Ireland and Irish horticulture in the US this month, you could not find
The Sodshow garden podcast airs every Friday in all good podcast stores and via www.sodshow.com